The Problem with "No Problem"

As we were out to dinner several nights ago, we had an outstanding waitress. She was friendly, knowledgeable and responsive.
There was only one problem, her response to almost everything was “no problem.” 

  • When we asked if we could have lemon with our water, she said “no problem.”
  • When she brought out our dinner and we thanked her, she said “no problem.”
  • When she handed us our check and I thanked her for the good service, she said “no problem.”

Here are 3 reasons why saying “no problem” in a customer service interaction is less than ideal.
1. Both words, no and problem, are negative. It conveys to the customer ‘you are not bothering me too much.’

2. The phrase ‘no problem’ is too common and mediocre. In the customer service arena, your goal is to delight the customer. ‘No problem’ doesn't convey that message.

3. There are much better phrases to use in the same situation.

Let’s take a look:

  • “Could I have lemon with my water?” “Of course.”
  • As the server brings the meal to our table and we say, ‘thank you.” “You are very welcome. Enjoy!’
  • As I thank the server for the good service. “It was my pleasure.”

Substituting the phrase ‘no problem’ with a few, better alternatives is one of the simplest, easiest and most powerful ways to elevate the customer service experience.

You can easily apply this on a personal or organizational level.

I'm hoping you don't have a problem with that.

The Power of Words: 3 Ways to Build Others Up

Words are powerful. They can be a force for bad or a force for good. Words can tear down or build up. We see the damage that words do every day in the political arena, from both sides of the aisle. The world is full of downers, naysayers and mean-spirited criticizers.
Set yourself apart from all that nonsense. Resolve to use your words as a force for good in the lives of those you interact with every day. Decide that you are going to be a person who builds others up.

“Great people are those who can make other people feel,
they too, can become great.”

– Mark Twain

Here are 3 simple, but powerful, ways you can build others up.



Appreciation is simply expressing gratitude to someone. Decide to be the kind of person who consistently expresses gratitude – to your spouse, your kids, your parents, your friends, even your restaurant server.
If you are a leader, in order to be effective, you must be good at expressing appreciation. With the economy being so strong, companies are desperately fighting to retain employees. One of the simplest and most effective ways to get employees to stay is to let them know how much you appreciate them.
Keep in mind there is a difference between felt gratitude and expressed gratitude. We are often grateful to others but fail to express it. Unexpressed gratitude is interpreted by the other as ingratitude.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it
is like wrapping a gift and never giving it.”

-William Ward

Are you good at expressing gratitude? When was the last time you told someone how much you appreciated them? Have you written a thank you note to someone lately?


Affirmation is simply telling someone what they are good at. We are all born on the wrong side of our eyeballs, so we don’t often see what we are naturally good at. Help others see the areas of giftedness.
Affirmation looks like this:

  • You have a natural way of inspiring others.
  • You are a great communicator. You have a way of organizing and simplifying ideas so they are easy to understand.
  • Your attention to detail is exceptional.
  • Your creativity and eye for design is outstanding. You are really gifted at that.

Whether a parent, teacher, or leader, one of the most important things you can do is help others see their how God has uniquely gifted them.
Many years ago, I had a boss who saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. She put me in a position to play to my strengths and it literally changed my life. I went from having a J.O.B. to having a vocation.
When was the last time you revealed to someone their strengths? When have you said “wow, you are really gifted in that area.”?


While appreciation and affirmation focus on the past, encouragement focuses on the future. Appreciation and affirmation say, “you did it”  while encouragement says, “you can do it!”
The word encouragement literally means ‘to give courage.’
Most people have goals and dreams but are also entangled with self-doubt. A lot of people think they are out of their league when they are not. Give people the gift of confidence. Help others believe in themselves. The truth is very few of us live even close to our potential. When you encourage someone, you help them move closer to their potential.
I am not suggesting you become an insincere back-slapper. I am encouraging you to decide each morning that you will look for opportunities that day to use three powerful, positive weapons: appreciation, affirmation and encouragement.

Building another up takes so little time and effort on our part and could be literally life changing to the other person. Decide now to be a person who speaks life into others.

It’s ironic, but this is how life works, as you build others up – your own life becomes more meaningful and rewarding.

Let’s call that a win-win.

The Power of First Impressions

"You never get a second chance to make a great first impression."
- Will Rogers

Two days ago, for insurance reasons, I went to a new dentist office. I had a 9:30 a.m. appointment but was told to arrive 15 minutes early to fill out a medical history. I arrived early and filled out the paperwork. Then I began to wait. There was one other person in the waiting room and he was called back around 9:30.

Now I was the only one in the waiting room. I waited 15 more minutes and hadn't heard a word from the people sitting behind the desk 15 feet away from me. I set my watch alarm for 10 a.m. and decided that if I didn't hear from anyone by then, I would leave.

10 a.m. came and no one said a word to me.

    Not "We will be with you in a few minutes."
    Not "We really apologize for the delay."

I went to the front desk and respectfully told them that I was canceling my appointment and why.

It could have been a great dentistry practice. My experience could have been the exception rather than the rule. It didn't matter to me. This was my singular experience.

This is the power of first impressions.

First impressions are like wet cement. You only have a small window of opportunity to make an impression. Once that impression is made, it is difficult to change.

In addition, research indicates that we make an unconscious judgment about a person when we first meet them within the first 7 seconds.

Here are 3 simple ways that you can make a great first impression. (I feel like I am giving you a blinding flash of the obvious, but these behaviors are not necessarily practiced.)

1. Be cheerful and welcoming. Smile. Act like you are happy to meet the person.

“I look for someone who produces a positive emotional effect
the minute they walk in the room.”
-Ken Blanchard,
CEO, The Ken Blanchard Companies

When I teach customer service for physician practices, I encourage front office staff to give new patients a special greeting like:

    "Welcome to our practice."  and/or
    "We are happy to have you as a patient."

Those few words make a big difference.

2. Be others-oriented. Spend less time trying to make an impression and more time being impressed by others. Take an interest in the other person. Ask them about themselves.

Here is a simple life principle: we like people who like us.

3. Maintain a neat, clean appearance.

Whether we like it or not, people do judge a book by its cover.

Realtors talk about the importance of 'curb appeal.' If the house doesn't look presentable from the outside, buyers usually don't want to take a look inside.

I recently heard a young entrepreneur speak. He said when he calls on customers, even CEOs, he wears a baseball cap, backwards. He explained that he has to be himself and that's his style. That's very naive.

Dressing inappropriately or neglecting your appearance suggests that you are socially unaware or careless.

Psychologists say that first impressions have a 'primacy effect.' In other words, first impressions are more impactful and longer lasting than subsequent impressions.

Have you given thought to the first impression you make?

Those who win in the marketplace understand the unique power of first impressions.

“The first impression will either open the door or close it.
It’s that important.”
- Betsy Johnson



I'm excited to share that we have added a new section to the Accelerating Excellence Websitethe Resource Gallery.

Here you can access my podcasts, ebooks, whitepapers and templates in your pursuit of personal and professional excellence. We will regularly update this section with more resources to help you succeed. 

The Comparison Trap: 3 Ways to Overcome It

A few years ago, I attended a conference in Orlando. Because I am an early riser and like to work out in the morning, I found myself alone in the hotel fitness center at 5:30 a.m. I immediately began to mentally congratulate myself on how disciplined I was compared to all the lazy sleepyheads still in their rooms.
About 10 minutes later, someone about 20 years younger than me got on a treadmill. It didn’t take long before he was running about 3 times as fast as me. I immediately began to think about how out of shape and slow I was.
This is the comparison trap. When we constantly measure ourselves against others, we fluctuate back and forth from having a superiority complex to having an inferiority complex. Neither are healthy.
Unfortunately, comparing ourselves to others is the default human condition. But with mental training, we can re-wire our brains to combat this tendency.
Here are 3 dangers in comparing ourselves to others, along with a corresponding remedy.


My natural tendency is to envy those who have a nicer car, less fat and more hair. This takes away from all the blessings I do have.


If you are reading this, you likely have more material blessings than 98% of the rest of the world. Quit comparing yourself to the other 2%.

Start each morning thanking God for all that you do have: food, clothing, shelter, health, family, friends, a job, etc. As your head hits the pillow, practice gratefulness again.

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because
we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
- Andy Stanley



When we compare ourselves to others, we don’t want the best for others. We think that, somehow, someone else’s success hinders our own success.


Understand that there is more than enough good to go around for everyone. The other person can thrive and prosper – and you can too!


There will always be others who have it better or are better in some areas. Therefore, comparing our self to others is futile and discouraging. This thinking creates wasted energy and fosters discontent.


Focus on being your best. Direct your energy on making full use of the gifts God gave you. Maximize your abilities.

“I decided to resign myself
from the position of general manager of the universe.”
– Jeffrey Gitomer

Comparing yourself to others creates envy, diffuses your energy, and limits your potential. Focusing on being all you can be, brings inner peace and fulfillment. Quit looking around you, look within you, and look up with gratitude.


I'm excited to share that we have added a new section to the Accelerating Excellence Websitethe Resource Gallery.

Here you can access my podcasts, ebooks, whitepapers and templates in your pursuit of personal and professional excellence. We will regularly update this section with more resources to help you succeed. 


I'm excited to share that we have added a new section to the Accelerating Excellence Websitethe Resource Gallery.

Here you can access my podcasts, ebooks, whitepapers and templates in your pursuit of personal and professional excellence. We will regularly update this section with more resources to help you succeed. 

The Game of Life is Won Behind the Scenes

"The glory and glamour come after the grunt work."
- Jeffrey Fox

My wife recently won ribbons for a quilt she made. It looked beautiful as it was displayed at the Quilt Show. What people didn’t see was her working alone in her sewing room hour upon hour doing tedious and detailed work.

Any time you see the work of a great musician, author, or athlete - know that you are seeing the tip of the iceberg. What happens below the surface (or behind the scenes) is what really determines greatness.

When I visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, I saw the original lyrics of some of the greatest songs of all time. They were hand written on a plain sheet of paper and the writing looked like chicken scratch.

Stephen King, in his book On Writing, speaks at length of the laborious process of writing a crummy first draft then editing it over and over.

John Wooden's UCLA basketball team won 10 NCAA championships in 12 years. They conditioned themselves so well in practice, that late in games when the opposing team was tired, they ran the opposition off the floor.

"When you work hard in silence, success will make the noise."

Talent is important, but not nearly as important as discipline and  persistence. 

In what area of life do you want to be great? How will you get there? 
•    Not by dawdling. 
•    Not by dabbling. 
•    Not by being distracted by trivia. 

Do you want to be in great shape? It will take consistent, disciplined action over an extended period of time.  Do you want to deliver a great presentation? It will take a lot of thought, preparation and practice.

Success and excellence come from training and discipline more often than talent or a lightning bolt of creativity. If you learn to be disciplined, you don’t have to wait around for motivation – just get to work. 

Learn to give your best behind the scenes and you will be rewarded publicly. 

"Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."
- Thomas Edison